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In 1988, Michèle Mouton and Fredrik Johnson co-founded the Race of Champions to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Driver's World Championship and also as a memorial to driver Henri Toivonen who was killed in 1986 at the Corsican Rally.
The first four years saw the championship race run in different locations: Monthléry, near Paris, Germany's Nürburgring circuit, the Olympic Center in Barcelona, Spain and Madrid's Jarama circuit from 1988-1991 respectively. In 1992, the race was moved to its current site in the Canary Islands.
The object of the Race of Champions is to have the best rally drivers in the world compete in identical cars so as to measure the champion more on driving skills and ability rather than the best vehicle. Moreover, the race consists of three heats and has been won by such renowned drivers as Didier Auriol (four time winner), Stig Blomqvist and Juha Kankkunen among others.
In the Race of Champions, you compete against seven computer-controlled drivers with the event beginning in the quarterfinal stage. The third heat between drivers is only run if the drivers are tied at one win each after two runs. In each race, you receive a randomly chosen vehicle and those drivers not advancing to semi-final and final stages receive two points. For those who advance, four points are awarded for losing in the semi-finals, eight for second place and ten for winning.
Between races, you have the option of checking point standings, checking out the bracket winners or quitting. No save feature is available during this mode but races can be watched again via a replay option. Rally Masters: Michelin Race of Champions features three unique events in addition to the title race that take players to various locales and countries throughout the world.
Rally Masters Championship contains competition in three divisions: Formula 2, WRC (World Rally Championship) and Legend. Circuits in Italy, Sweden, Indonesia, the United States, England and the Canary Islands provide the venues. In this mode, you must begin with a car from the F2 category. Once again, vehicles are chosen randomly but increase in power and maneuverability as each stage is reached.
As in the Race of Champions, competition begins in the quarterfinal stage but points awarded differ slightly with 2, 4, 6 and 10 awarded. Additionally, the final race in the Rally Masters Championship mode rewards double points (12 and 20) for the winning and losing drivers in the finale at the Canary Island circuit. A save option is available at the end of each event in each country.
The third mode is the Rally Masters Challenge Cup with races in five of the six locales used in above mentioned Rally Masters Championship. The exception is the Canary Islands circuit. Again, you compete against seven other drivers beginning in the quarterfinal stage — to advance, you must finish in one of the top two positions. Cars are chosen randomly as in the other modes and each stage is run with Category 1, 2 and then 3 cars respectively.
In the final mode, the Rally Masters Trophy, the focus switches to a rally championship based on cars, not drivers. You face eleven computer-controlled drivers in anywhere from six to ten courses in five countries. The winner is the driver with the best overall time for all the races in each country's rally — each race is run solo with but one car on the track at a time in this race against the clock. Timed repair breaks are allowed.
In single player mode, there are 11 cars in three categories available in the Rally Masters Championship, the Rally Masters Challenge Cup and Single Rally venues. Category 1 includes an Autocross Buggy, the Toyota RAV 4, Peugeot 306 Maxi and the Ford Escort Cosworth. Cars available in Category 2 are the Toyota Corola WRC, Ford Escort WRC and the Peugeot 206 WRC. Finally, Category 3 cars consists of the Audi S1, Peugeot 205 T16, Toyota Celica GT4 and Lancia Delta Integrate.
The cars used in the Rally Masters Trophy and Time Attack modes include six for Formula 2, five in WRC and seven in the Legend category. In these modes, there are "locked cars" that can be acquired by completing championships at different skill levels. As examples, the Citroen Xsara Kit Car and Hyundai Coupé in the Formula 2 set, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6 in the WRC class and three Lancia types in the Legend category can be gained.
All together, Rally Masters: Michelin Race of Champions contains 30 real world drivers (including Colin McRae, Björn Waldegård and Walter Röhrl) spread across the Formula 2, WRC and Legend segments. More than 40 tracks in six countries, changeable weather patterns including snow, rain, ice and mud as well as night and day driving are also part of the package. The game requires 3D acceleration and features real-time damage effects.
In multiplayer mode, up to eight players can participate with each using a separate computer linked via a LAN or over the Internet. Multiplayer options include chat capability as well as spectator mode. Several control options are provided in Rally Masters: Michelin Race of Champions including joystick, wheel, keyboard and mouse, some customizable control profiles, five difficulty levels (rookie, easy, medium, hard and extreme) and metric or English settings.
Ready for some hair-raising racing? Jump behind the wheel and rally round Rally Masters: Michelin Race of Champions and test your driving skills! ~ Michael L. House, All Game Guide